Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Becoming a Trail Horse
At my last lesson yesterday, my instructor and I went off into the woods with Leah to practice going up and down hills. We had been working on this thing I do with the reins--basically, "opening doors", although the doors became very small. It amounts to a slight bend of the wrist for the left door, walk, walk, slight bend of the wrist for the right door, walk, walk. That constant "opening doors" helps Leah keep her mind on the walk. Buck Brannaman calls it the "Triangle of Support". You're just letting your horse know they're not alone.
My instructor worked with us until we had that down and then said, let's go.
Leah helped me open and close the arena gate, went over the bridge, and off to the woods.
In the woods, she got really nervous going downhill, but my instructor had me work on swinging my hips more so that she would know to loosen hers up. It worked great.
Today, (pic above), a friend went out with us on the trail. I warned her ahead of time that it would be a training day, but she was happy to go. She has a steady Eddy horse. We went up and down some steep hills, past some scary objects, met a few people along the way (one with a weed whacker) and Leah did GREAT. She led out the whole way and had a very fast, but comfortable walk.
At the end of the ride, we went through the trail challenge. Leah did many of the challenges very well, but she didn't like the bridge at the park. (I was surprised since she's so confident at the one at the barn.)
After our trail ride, when she was really tired and starting to get trippy, I unsaddled her and walked her back to the bridge to get a more positive experience from the ground. My friend was leaving the park with her horse and trailer, but she stopped and took the photo above.
I could not have been more pleased with our first time out this year. It was so much fun. I'm looking forward to many more.